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Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Business Blog
This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Oldie But Goodie - Effort and Energy --
Protective capacity is required to allow a project to recover from a setback. Projects are, by nature, uncertain. Things go wrong. Unexpected things happen. If project commitments are to mean anything, the system/organization/project must have, as one arrow in its quiver, sufficient capability/capacity to occasionally sprint to bring the project plan back into line. The system may need the reserve provided by having a few extra people on the rolls. The system also needs the reserve that is inherent in the use of overtime and weekends. Working long is only appropriate when the situation truly demands it.
This old (1999) essay still seems applicable today, as pressures for growth and "efficiency" takes more and more slack out of organizational systems, whether mature and downsizing or young and growing.

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Constraints are Good? -- Long time blog buddy Jack Vinson says that "constraints are good." Good, maybe (when compared to the mythical "balanced" system). A fact of life, yes (constraints just are). Something that one must be aware of and manage with eyes wide open, absolutely.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Say No to Sucky Meetings -- I've bailed out of three meetings myself this week after perusing the agenda.

Also, better to say no than to attend and not pay attention, doing other work via wireless connection. To avoid the temptation, I even try to avoid taking my laptop to meetings that don't intrinsicly need it.

(Definitely going to move Lisa's Management Craft from my "Checking Out" list to my "Project(s and) Management" list.)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Six Sigma - Too Much of a Good Thing? -- From Fast Company's Consultant Debunking Unit...
"while Welch may be right that you can't afford not to understand Six Sigma, you can't necessarily afford to use it, either"
Fast Company also points to a recent Wall Street Journal article that talks about the overuse and distortion of the heretofore Six Sigma "sacred cow." I've written before about the misuse of it's TQM precursor, and often complained about when the emphasis on cost-cutting (too often touted as the ultimate benefit of such approaches) overwhelms the quality improvement benefits that could actually help grow the business.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Say No to Multi-tasking! - Chunk and dash.

OK, got that done...

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Blogger/Geek Dinner with Stormhoek -- As previously mentioned, I attended a "Geek Dinner" in New York on Thursday night (My Flickr photoset, and Josh's). Set up in order that a London blogger and self-described media influencer might meet some interested (and, it turned out, interesting) folks in the NYC area while on this side of the pond, it also served as a North American introduction to Stormhoek a new South African winery known best over here among the blognoscenti for being virally blog-flogged by Hugh Mcleod.

(Sheesh. Did I get carried away there with the blogisms or what?)

It should be no surprise that a fair proportion of the 15 or so attendees were from the intersection of the web, marketing, and PR, some of who were visibly salivating at the possibility of getting in front of Heath Row of Fast Company Now fame, whose name was on the wiki planned attendee list. I want to assume that Heath actually intended to show but was waylaid, however, the idea of seeding sign-up lists with well known personages of influence...well...let's just say it intrigues those of the darker, skeptical bent. (No evidence of this here, but that just shows with my mind goes.)

Some of the conversation surrounded the reason for Adriana's visit to the US -- her participation in a big corporate communications conference at a well-known pharmafirm in New Jersey. Interesting to listen to her response to the big corp ways of doing things, with teleprompter monitors and buttoned down presentations. Clearly coming from the Web 2.0 age of collaborative, highly interactive gatherings, there was a tinge of impatience in her reaction to the old fogey way of doing things. I tried to point out that those of us who live on the edge tend to forget that we are still out on the edge, and that big corporate executives are not yet ready to make the same leaps that free-living open source developers do. They got to their positions of power and influence by playing by the old rules, and one shouldn't expect them to easily change. Fortunately, Adriana was asked back for a follow-up conversation, so there's always a chance for evolution where revolution doesn't take hold.

In the small world department, the evening provided a meatspace meeting with Bill Seitz, who has dropped a comment or two on my Focused Performance blog in the past. There was another attendee at my end of the table, Theresa Brigandi, whose current entry in her resume sounds a lot like my own day-to-day role at DigitalGrit. And in chatting up my work at DG, I found out that attendee Mike Hudack recently worked with one of my co-workers. Mike, along with attendee Charles Hope, is working some interesting stuff in the media serving area, centering on

In the comestibles department, the dinner was held at Two Boots in Grand Central Terminal. Cheesy garlic bread, garlic knots, and variety of not-bad pizza, including a cajun-tinged version with shrimp and andouille. The Stormhoek Sauvignon Blanc was a nice light, crisp, highly drinkable quaff, maybe a bit overpowered by the heavy pizza flavors, but worth checking out once it really arrives in full distribution. One aspect of it that garnered some conversation was the screw-top cap. The industry has been moving toward this solution, as an effective way of protecting the product from bad corkage. Some of my favorite wines, including Vin Gris de Cigare from forward-looking vineyard Bonny Doon, use screw caps with no noticeable deterioration in quality.

A good time was had by all, including myself, despite the intense humidity of the evening, and arriving via the sweatbox of the NYC Subway.

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Flickr Tags: GeekDinner, GrandCentral, Stormhoek

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Onion Canny Prognostication -- I'm going start paying more attention to the venerable and apparently prescient Onion satire site. Here's a tongue in shaved cheek piece from February, 2004. Here's a product announcement from today. [Pointage via Seth and his readers.]

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Getting Things Done - A Revisit -- I've been recently trying to improve my personal productivity based on a process (pdf) described in the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. It's a bit of a journey changing core habits at my age, but I'm starting to see and feel some positive effects. It's really quite a best seller and there's even quite a cultish feel from some of the book's proponents and worth looking into if you find yourself a bit out of control and losing things between the cracks.

One of the best blogs related to the book and process and subject, 43 Folders,has recently run a summary called Building A Better To-Do List (Part 1 and Part 2), which you might want to check out first.

One of my recent sharings with my co-workers was a piece about taking time to think. I'm starting to think that this Getting Things Done process is helping me along those lines. That and getting up early enough to send out things like this at 6:30 in the morning.

Now if I could only apply the benefits to keeping up with posting to this blog...

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Technorati Blog Finder -- Looking for blogs related to a subject, sorted by "authority," recently updated, or alphabetical? Try this Technorati utility. (I worry about how "authority" might be judged.)

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Friday, September 02, 2005

American Red Cross - Credit Card Contribution -- Enough said.

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What Next? -- I've been in a funk this week, not unlike mid-September, 2001, but probably more progressive as every bit of news out of New Orleans is more and more depressing. At least the aftermath of 9/11 seemed to be a coming together. There is a lot of that, but the big headlines and lead stories about shootings and lootings and bodies in the streets for days sounds more like a third world civil war than a modern US city.

And the implications yet to arise are, I suspect, still significant and have the potential to make this week's devestation and debacle pale in comparison, as dislocated people span out across the south. I agree with Doc Searls that this will be a turning point for a lot of what has been neglected in our nation, for good as well as otherwise...
"This event will change the country as much as 9/11 did, and perhaps even more so. After Katrina, we will again begin investing in real homeland security, real infrastructure, real caring for the civilizing natures of vital cities and family farms, of small towns and real communities, and government bodies that care more about their people than the high-dollar sources of election funding.

"This event won't have ripple effects. The consequences will be tidal: on transportation, on agriculture, on lumber and other supplies, on retailing, on churches and on citizens across the country who will need to take on the burden of caring for refugees and helping others start new lives.

"Katrina also force us to face a subject even Demoncrats have stopped talking about, although it lurks beneath everything: class. When the dead are counted, most of them will have been poor. Count on it.

"This thing is a huge reset button on politics as usual. Along with everything else."
Here's hoping the response is not a war on weather.

-- Later --

Katrina has hit little bit closer to home. Getting away from the big not-so-easy, I realized that one of the towns hit was Gulfport, Mississippi, home of Carol Lacy, a teacher I "know online" at Bayou View Elementary School there. Carol has been a participant in our Global Virtual Classroom program for the last two years, and her class was on the team that built a Special Merit website in that program's primary school division.

The website for the Gulfport School System seems to be down. Not a good sign. Last year, a school from Malaysia had to drop out of the GVC program because of the tsunami. A school in Kuwait went quiet when the war in Iraq started. In our first year, a school in Tashkent was disrupted when rebel shootings broke out in their city. We at GVC talk a lot about bringing kids closer together by understanding what their counterparts are doing on the other side of the world. It would be nicer if the big events weren't always so negative. I guess we'll have to be satisfied with the big little events that happen in their teams.

I never guessed, however, how close we who run the program could get to the ongoing participants as well. Thoughts are with you, and your students, families and community, Carol.

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